Funding disputes, Kyoto Protocol extension continue to stall climate agreement

Conflicts between rich and poor countries have stalled United Nations climate talks and kept the conference from agreeing to financing for climate change mitigation and an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Associated Press reports that nations are scrambling to finalize an agreement for payments from wealthy nations to poor nations and extend the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding emissions reduction agreement among wealthy nations, which expires this year.

The finance issue has been a dark cloud hanging over the conference from the beginning, as rich nations won’t make any firm commitments — partly due to domestic budget constraints — and poor nations want $100 billion per year in climate aid by 2020, building on the pledge made in Copenhagen three years ago.

In 2009, rich nations, including the United States, pledged long-term aid to help poor nations mitigate the impacts of global warming, starting with $10 billion a year between 2010 and 2012.

Funding would increase to $100 billion in 2020. However, it was never specified how this funding promise would be kept.

A draft of the agreement being hammered out in Doha urged rich nations “to make firm commitments to provide scaled up climate finance beyond 2012,” but didn’t set any targets for mid-term financing.

The BBC reports that some European countries have offered interim climate funding, but the U.S. won’t commit to any interim funding. The U.S.’s decision has angered environmental groups, especially after promises by U.S. officials that climate change would become a top priority in President Barack Obama’s second term.